Reviewed by Dr. Brent Boyse, DDS

Everyone is talking about dental implants—and for good reason! This innovative solution for missing teeth has changed the way oral surgeons approach tooth restoration. Unlike traditional dentures or bridges, dental implants are permanent and look and function just like natural teeth.

But what exactly are dental implants, and how are they placed?

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll take you through the entire dental implant procedure, so you can have a better understanding of what to expect.

Table of Contents

Why Replace a Missing Tooth?

When you lose a permanent tooth, it can cause a number of issues in your mouth. The gap left by the missing tooth can lead to shifting and misalignment of your remaining teeth.

With no tooth root stimulating the bone, the jawbone starts to deteriorate, leading to bone loss and changes in your facial appearance. Have you ever seen someone who wears dentures without their dentures?  You might have noticed sunken cheeks or a shrunken jawline. This is because of the bone loss that occurs when teeth are missing.

If you have lost a molar you might think this isn’t a big deal because you can’t see those teeth.  However, without a molar to help you chew food, it can put extra stress on your other teeth and cause damage in the long run.

So replacing a missing tooth is important for more than just cosmetic reasons! You need ALL of your teeth to maintain proper oral health and function.

Now that you know why you should replace a missing tooth, let’s talk about dental implants; what they are and why they are the best tooth replacement option.

What Are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is a small screw or post made of titanium that is surgically placed into your jaw bone. It does the job of a tooth root – it stimulates the jawbone and provides a stable base for a tooth restoration.

The implant integrates with your jawbone in a process called osseointegration. This process takes several months to complete and is very important for the stability of the implant.

Once the implant has fused with the bone, an abutment is attached to the implant and a dental crown is attached to the abutment. The final result is a stable, aesthetically pleasing tooth!

This step-by-step guide will explain the surgical procedure of having a single implant placed. For a detailed explanation of the All-on-4 procedure, read: All-on-4® Implants: Step-by-Step Procedure Details.

Step-by-Step Dental Implant Procedure

  1. Initial Consultation – Your journey towards a new smile begins with a free dental implant consultation with one of our surgeons. They will ask you about your medical history and will assess your dental health. If they determine that you are a candidate, they will book you in for surgery. 

The implant process is a joint effort between your oral surgeon and dentist. The surgeon performs the surgery and looks after you postoperatively. Your dentist will see you once the implant has fused with the bone and will be the one who makes your dental restoration (dental crown).

  1. Surgery – The surgery is performed under sedation. Small incisions are made in your gums, and the implant is placed directly into your jawbone. Once the implants are in place, your surgeon will close the incisions with stitches. In some cases, a healing abutment will be placed that will stick up through the gums. This helps to contour the gums so that a crown can be placed later on.
  2. Healing –  There are two stages of healing: What you can see and what you can’t see. Healing from the surgery usually takes 7–10 days. You will be given post-operative instructions to follow; it’s very important that you follow them carefully to avoid infection or damage to the implant. The implant will continue to heal for several months as it fuses with the jawbone. During this time, you may be given a temporary crown.
  3. Abutment Placement – Once your implant has fused with the bone, you will come back to our office for another minor procedure to place an abutment on top of the implant. This allows space for the dental crown to be attached.
  4. Dental Crown Placement – After your abutment is placed, your dentist will take impressions of your mouth and create a custom-made dental crown that will fit perfectly on top of the abutment. Once the crown is ready, it will be securely attached to the abutment, completing your new tooth!
  5. Follow-Up – Your oral surgeon and dentist will schedule follow-up appointments to ensure that the implant is healing properly, and your restoration is functioning as it should. It’s important to attend these appointments to maintain the longevity of your dental implant.

Healing After Dental Implant Surgery

Dental implants are an investment, so you want to make sure you do everything you can to make sure they heal properly. Here are some tips to ensure your healing period is successful:

  • Take any prescribed medications as directed to prevent infection and manage pain.
  • Follow proper oral hygiene practices, including gentle brushing and rinsing with saltwater.
  • Stick to a soft food diet for the first few days after surgery and gradually incorporate solid foods back into your diet as you heal. For a list of soft food ideas, read What Can I Eat After Dental Implant Surgery?

Smoking And Dental Implants

Smoking drastically lowers the success rate of dental implants. In fact, one study found that the failure rate of dental implants in smokers was 15.8%, compared to just 1.4% in non-smokers.

If you are considering dental implants, we recommend that you quit smoking entirely before you have the surgery. As mentioned before, dental implants are an investment, so you want to make sure you do all you can to make sure they are successful!

If quitting smoking is not an option for you, it’s important that you understand that there is a higher risk of dental implant failure. We ask that our patients stop smoking four weeks before and after dental implant surgery.

For more information about how smoking affects dental implants, read The Impact of Smoking on Dental Implants: Why It’s Crucial to Quit

AZ Max Oral Surgery: Experts in Dental Implants

We hope this guide has answered your questions about the dental implant procedure. At AZ Max Oral Surgery, we specialize in implant dentistry and have successfully placed thousands of dental implants for our patients. Our team of highly skilled surgeons use state-of-the-art technology to ensure the best results for each patient.

If you are considering dental implants or have further questions, book a free dental implant consultation at one of our five locations. Call or text (480) 830-5866 to book an appointment.

Dental implants in Mesa: 6755 E. Superstition Springs Blvd. Suite 103 Mesa, AZ

Dental implants in North Mesa: 6808 E Brown Rd Mesa, AZ

Dental implants in Queen Creek: 18610 E. Rittenhouse Rd., Ste. 105 Queen Creek, AZ

Dental implants in Show Low: 1941 S White Mountain Rd Show Low, AZ

Dental implants in Tempe: 7350 S. McClintock Dr., Suite 101 Tempe, AZ